Air Compressors

Lawson, Robert W.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 21
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1982
INTRODUCTION The two basic types of mine-air compressors are the positive-displacement compressors and the dynamic compressors. Positive-displacement compressors con¬fine successive volumes of air within a closed space and increase the pressure by reducing the volume of that space. Reciprocating and rotary compressors operate on this principle. Dynamic compressors utilize an impeller to acceler¬ate the air, with the increased air velocity converted to pressure through a stationary diffuser. Centrifugal compressors and turbocompressors operate on this principle. Reciprocating Compressors Reciprocating compressors include both single-stage and multistage units. For mine service the most com¬mon is the two-stage intercooled compressor having an atmospheric pressure intake and a discharge pressure of 689 to 861 kPa (100 to 125 psi). The cylinders of a reciprocating compressor may be either single acting or double acting. In the single-acting cylinder, compression occurs on only one side of the piston, while, in double¬acting cylinders, compression occurs on both sides of the piston. Fig. 1 shows a cross-sectional view of a typical two-stage double-acting water-cooled reciprocat¬ing compressor. Fig. 2 illustrates the sequence of opera¬tions occurring in the cylinder of a reciprocating com¬pressor. Most modern mine compressors are double acting and are driven by electric motors. Induction motors are used on low-powered compressors, and synchronous motors are used on larger compressors. Steam-driven compressors once were common and still are applied where a reliable source of low-cost steam is available. For this type of compressor, steam is a desirable power source since a governor that senses the discharge pres¬sure can be used to control the steam inlet. This can be used to regulate the compressor speed to compress only air sufficient to meet the mine's requirements (up to the capacity of the unit). Unlike a constant-speed electric¬driven compressor, no other regulation is required for the cylinders of a steam-driven unit. Rotary Compressors Rotary compressors include sliding-vane, liquid¬piston, two-impeller straight-lobe or cycloidal, and helical-lobe units. Each of these has specific advantages and applications. Of these, the helical-lobe or "screw" compressor has the greatest application for supplying "100-lb air" [689 kPa (100 psi) ] to small- and medium¬size underground mines. Fig. 3 illustrates the operation of a sliding-vane compressor. Fig. 4 illustrates the operation of a helical lobe or screw compressor. Fig. 5 illustrates the operation of a two-impeller straight-lobe compressor. Fig. 6 illustrates the operation of a liquid¬piston compressor. Centrifugal Compressors Centrifugal compressors deliver 0.94 m3/s (2000 cfm) or more of air, and they are best suited to supply¬ing large volumes of compressed air for base loads. The efficiency of a centrifugal compressor declines rapidly when its operation deviates from its design point. If the power cost is not a critical consideration, a centrif¬ugal compressor is attractive as a result of the low initial and installation costs and the high degree of reliability. Fig. 7 illustrates a typical four-stage centrif¬ugal compressor, and Fig. 8 is a cross section of this type of unit. COMPRESSOR SELECTION The process of selecting a compressor requires sev¬eral considerations, including the capacity, the control system, the location, the power supply, and the cooling provisions. Compressor Capacity To determine the required capacity, the total air quantity and pressure requirements must be calculated. The air consumption of various tools, as listed in Table 1, must be included in this calculation. Some of the other considerations include: 1) The correction factor for altitude, as listed in Table 2, must be included in the calculation. While pneumatic tools require additional compressed air as the altitude increases, the compressor produces less. 2) A correction factor must be incorporated for the use of multiple tools. Table 3 lists appropriate correc¬tion factors for rock drills.
Full Article Download:
(1178 kb)